You’ve been on Facebook and Instagram and seen all the wonderful places others have been riding and you’ve thought to yourself, I want to go there. So, why not? Just do it! Start your 2021 plans now for most destinations. Get some dates and reservations set so you don’t find yourself a year from now wondering why you didn’t plan a trip. Once those reservations are in place you can start to prepare.
Do you want to visit a new horse camp with day riding? Or do you want to bring your own camping accommodations and stay at the trailhead? Be sure to research the area before heading out. Check for snow and whether trails been cleared. Are you and your horse capable of negotiating the trails you’ll find there? Get some maps to help plan (don’t just rely on what you find on the Internet). You can use those maps on the trail too.
Know what permits you need and if there are use fees. Do you need reservations? How far in advance?
Know the road conditions. Are your vehicles and tires up to a trip that might include steep hills and unpaved roads? Plan for how you will deal with a flat tire or other mechanical issue. Do you have roadside assistance? Is there cell service? Practice your trailer backing skills so you can easily get in and out of camping spots. How big is your rig? Not all roads and camps can accommodate really long rigs.
Plan for feed. Is certified weed-free feed required? Where will you find feed along your route if you need more? It helps to call ahead to check availability and even pre-order hay or feed on multi-destination trips.
Get your horse or mule fit enough for several days of riding, often at high altitudes. Train it how to safely highline and hobble. Training at home will not only be much safer but you will sleep better knowing your partner is relaxed and comfortable.
Will you be going out of state to camp? Proper timing for completing travel paperwork is essential. Talk early with your vet about your plans and check state veterinary websites for any updates in requirements. You may need to take a couple of days to get to and from your destination so plan any overnight accommodations ahead of time.
Do you want to see some new country and pack into the back country where you’ll be away from the crowds? Consider hiring experienced licensed outfitters. Many offer several trip options such as a basic drop camp where they pack your supplies in and drop all your equipment at a pre-planned location and come back later to bring it all out for you. You and your friends ride your own stock in and camp, cook, and care for your animals yourselves. Another option is to hire them for a deluxe trip—they do all the work, pack you in, cook meals, and you ride their trained and experienced stock.
Decide where you want to go now. Perhaps choose one of the places where BCHW’s State Wide Work Parties have been or BCHW HotShots crews have done trail work. For Washington State, visit the Washington Outfitters and Guides website www.woga.org to find a licensed company who will fit your needs. Other states have their own organizations and companies, a simple internet search can find them. Some of the extremely popular riding adventures, like the Red Rock Ride, Grand Canyon Mule Ride, or Banff Trail Rides may already be booked for next year so start your research now about when and how to book for 2022.
Winery Ride Costume Contest winners and the Virtual Wine Ride can be found at www.bchw.org
Join Back Country Horsemen of Washington after October 1 and your dues are good until the end of 2021. This also includes membership in Back Country Horsemen of America. www.bchw.org.
BCHW is a 501c3 organization with 31 chapters across the state. We are dedicated to keeping trails open for all users; educating stock users in Leave-No-Trace practices; and providing volunteer service to resource agencies. To find out more about BCHW go to www.bchw.org. Keep up with BCHW and the issues and events we are following on our state Facebook page www.facebook.com/public.bchw
Please help support BCHW when you shop on Amazon (it doesn’t cost you extra!) by using our Amazon Smile link: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/dashboard/ref=smi_se_ssr_btnr1_setch?ie=UTF8&pldnNewSubDash=1
Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW), is a 501 (c) (3) organization with 32 chapters across the state dedicated to: keeping trails open for all users; educating horse users in Leave-No-Trace practices; and providing volunteer service to resource agencies.